Oct 28 2010

Visit to Rota Naval Base and the Plight of a Navy Brat

It is a pretty amazing experience to visit places that I have lived in the past.  Like other Navy brats, what I call my home now doesn’t resemble my home from elementary school, high school or college.  I rarely get to visit the places that I lived before because they are so far away, and in many instances, I no longer know anyone in the region because the rest of the Navy friends have moved on as well.

Even when nobody is around to reminisce with me, and the place has changed, it is an amazing and therapeutic feeling to re-connect with the neighborhoods that I grew up in.  Two of the friends I met while visiting Puerto de Santa Maria escorted me onto the Rota Naval Base while I was there.  We drove by and saw my old house, school, church, and gym.  The school is completely new now, as well as some of the parks, but the memories flooded back quickly as we drove around town.

Below are some of the memories I had from my junior and senior year of high school (1997-1999):

This is my house.  It is the first time in my life that I had my own room and yard.  We had always lived in a southern California condo before.  We also got to have a garden and a cat.  This is the home where we welcomed my baby brother, Matthew into the world.  It was only two doors down from my school, yet I had a tendency to be five minutes late daily.  Luckily, I had senile Dr. Novinsky for math in the morning . . . tardiness and attendance did not affect my grade!

Just down the block from my house, overlooking the Rota port was a park.  I didn’t spend much time at this park, but it marks a very important time in my life.  It was the first time I snuck out of the house to meet a boy.  Arthur Gasapo was my first teenage boyfriend, and I had to persuade my Mom not to be mad at me or punish me after I returned.

The first summer that I arrived, I was looking for social networks so I got involved with the community theatre.  This is a picture of the amphitheatre where we performed South Pacific.  The show itself did not change my life, but it was where I met Quinci Martin and Scott Gallaher.  Quinci and Scott were both much better actors and singers than I, something I never let my ego give them credit for.  The part that I remember the most about the entire rehearsal process was the time that Scott, the cigarette-smoking rebel, and I were sitting on the bars in the back of the amphitheatre, and he asked me to go out with him.  I told him no, but felt so bad for so long because I hated hurting people’s feelings . . . sorry!  Scott was the first to call me “Trish the Dish,” a nickname that has stuck since then.

I was a pretty straight-laced kid, so most people are surprised to know that I was the one in charge of our senior class prank.  Under a bright moon and starry sky, we ran through campus toilet papering the towering palm trees and stacking lunch tables.  Unfortunately, I had not watched enough robbery movies so I did not know the importance of creating an escape plan.  The cops came and we all scattered.  Unlike some of my friends, I safely got off-campus and hid in some bushes while the cops perused the neighborhoods.  However, my home was on the exact opposite side of the campus, and there were only two roads that connected where I was to where I wanted to go.  I was so worried that I would be caught on my way home that I stayed in the bushes in this stranger’s front lawn for over an hour!  The picture to the right shows the lawn on which I kneeled on all fours for an hour or more the night before graduation.  I know the world doesn’t revolve around me and my actions, but I can’t help but wonder if they got rid of the hedges to get rid of hoodlum kids!  (Just as a side note, I did return to the school to help my classmates that did get caught clean-up campus.  And, my father was mad, but my mother was in cahoots with us the entire time!)

I don’t have a picture, but it was also great for me to see the base chapel.  Of all places, the chapel was the first place that I remember getting drunk.  Being in Spain, we drank in bars as normal social activity, but I didn’t get drunk the same way as I did after good ol’ church wine at 9am.  See, I was raised Catholic, and I volunteered my service by being a wine server on Sunday mornings.  In the Catholic religion, once wine is mixed with holy water, it becomes sacred and must be ingested by man.  Sometimes, the priest estimated that there were a lot more heavy drinkers in the congregation than there actually were, leaving it up to me, a 16 year old lightweight to polish off a half of a chalice!  I remember a few times standing in the bathroom after mass, looking at myself in the mirror with pink, giggling, cheeks and the room spinning while my family and friends unknowingly munched on donuts and chatted about their weeks next door.  Mrs. Duncan, and an older man would sometimes come to my rescue and take the last gulps for me.  Thank you!

We drove all through the base.  Many of the buildings are exactly the same but ten years more degraded.  A few are new.  Below are some more pictures . . . unfortunately, several are blurry.  If you are DGF alumnus, take a look at the new school.  It’s massive and beautiful!

P.S.  Thank you Matt Tugg and Erik Holmberg for taking me on my walk through memory lane!